Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Our Wheels Stay Put…For Now

Last post I was pretty much freaking out about having to go and talk to town officials about parking our house on our friend’s farm but I’m sure glad I did! It ended up being a fairly straightforward process, however (there always seems to be a however with tiny houses) we only have a permit for a year. As long as it’s on wheels it’s considered a temporary structure and can only be lived in for 365 days. After that, I’m not sure what we do.

P1000545They didn’t say it was renewable so do we keep it on wheels or try and set it on a foundation? I feel like taking it off the trailer will be quite a hassle with zoning and code but trying to explain to people that you LIVE in this, that’s it’s NOT a camper and is your home is pretty much beyond people’s expectation. Some children I care for down the street actually passed by and asked if it was a new playhouse for the children of our friend! This is totally fine with us. We figure the less serious people take our living situation the better off we are.
It’s pretty amazing to me though the amount of attention such a small square footage receives. We have had strangers stop their cars, get out and ask to take pictures. Folks are asking if we build them and how much they cost. There is definitely an opportunity here to gain community support. Who knows? Perhaps even change the zoning laws! I’m definitely debating how I begin to advocate on the town administrative level so that tiny housing can be considered a legally viable living alternative to the statue quo.

We plan to live in this area for at least the next ten years, who knows-maybe the rest of our lives, so I feel like it’s well worth the effort to begin changing the laws. It’ll probably take me ten years to accomplish so I might as well get stared!
The fact that we landed on a farm whose owner is open and supportive of our lifestyle was huge. For changes to happen I feel we need support from property owners like her who have a solid place in their community and can say, “We had a tiny house on our land and it was a positive experience!” Not to mention that the situation often benefits the land owner who either receives work trade, rent or some other barter situation from tiny housers.

2

In my mind it’s a way to create a more locally minded economy rather than paying a bank for a mortgage we can’t afford. Cedric and I were looking at properties a couple months ago but in Vermont either you find raw land, which isn’t cheap and needs a lot of money put in to make it livable, you find a camp, which is usually only livable in Spring, Summer and Fall or you get huge houses with a price tag far beyond what we can consider.

It’s not an easy situation for the tiny house dweller but right now I’m extremely grateful to have a place to rest our weary wheels for the next year. Winter in a tiny house is a whole new issue for us and we realize we need to start getting ready now for those cold, blustery months. With all the challenges we’ve faced, I still look forward everyday to climbing into our snug little home and enjoying the knowing that it is ours, and ours alone.

Your Turn!

  • Any advice on how to get started advocating change in zoning laws?
  • Have you received community support in your city/town living in a tiny house?
  • What are most folks reactions to your tiny house?

Via

19 Comments
  1. Dee Williams has been on her friends property for years with approval of the city. If you don’t have complaints and they forget about you, it will be easy to keep their approval beyond the 365.
    More people are trying the same things as you and I wish you well on staying there long term.
    Robert
    TheTinyBungalow

  2. The question is simple, they are allowing you to have a trailer there on 365 permit, leave it on the trailer, support and level the trailer with egg crates, Leave the tires on but lift the axle with bottle jacks and skirt the entire trailer, a permit should not be required to skirt it. If the bylaw enforcement comes to see what you are doing, you know you are being watched, someone reported your activities, simply tell him you are skirting for the winter and he will understand that. I doubt if a permit to skirt would be required but if it is, stop what you are doing and go get one. A little ignorance is generally forgiven in those terms but the enforcement officer has to check it out if an inquiry is made.

    You didn’t get confirmation on whether or not the permit is renewable so just go and ask them, I doubt if that would raise any concerns. Like Robert said, if you don’t make waves they probably won’t bother you but you personally are concerned with legal stability. Baby steps my friend, make some of those people who are showing an interest your allies before you as a newbie try to change the zoning. If there is a chance the permit is renewable they are simply saying that it could be if you are not a pain. Don’t be a pain and when you have those allies and feel a need to have the zoning changed then you have a little more behind you than you do now. A year is not a lot of time to try to change the world.

    20 some + years ago in the north end of Kelowna BC they tried to change the zoning to allow in-law suites, TH’s in the back yards, it was a 10 year battle, pros and cons on both sides, people simply built them with what looked like garage doors facing the alley and everyone lived happily ever after. Of course until some jealous SOB complained. Now the zoning has been changed, they are in just about every back yard and truthfully, it’s not a pretty site. I am happy to have sold when I did and I was on the pro side.

    I doubt in the location you are if there would be a problem permitting and building a tack house on that land, a TH of sorts where the groomer or horse trainer or a gardener even could live or stay for a duration (who’s to keep track of the duration) and store tack or whatever in it. No problems, done deal. Where I am, commercial residential, I can’t live here if I do not run a business. Commercial in front residential in back or above, so if all else fails, I open a hobby business in front, or for nonprofit something with an office and put a small kitchen in the rear and I conform. A little more to pay in taxes but not much and all is totally legal. The forest for the trees scenario, sometimes we get a little too caught up with wanting the pretty little noticeable Tinny House to be the focus and not an economical lifestyle. I am in it for the lifestyle. I have never known a fireman to run into a building unless someone called in a fire or there was smoke billowing out the windows and roof. I am sure you follow my drift. You want the security of living there forever, so change the terminology to fit the surroundings and don’t broadcast too much. You may be surprised what they will accept.

  3. I’m considering building a tiny house to put on a lot I own, but haven’t fully committed to it just because of a few small things I’m concerned about. As far as I know the town has no regulations on the buildings, small rural Maine town.

    However my concern is regarding it being a temporary structure and what I need to do about the grey water (shower/sink). I am considering a composting toilet for it. Basically right now I’m in the planning (getting my ducks in a row) stage. I’d be interested in what others have done.

    • If you have space on your lot for a compost pile, a “humanure” system might work for you – although I’m into urine diverting toilets. Makes the bucket much less of a mess( you should put a biodegradable bag in the bucket)Check out some of the “kits” they have for building your own. Composting toilets are big, expensive and despite what they claim, they’re difficult to maintain.
      Sounds like you’ll have power/water available. Remember that the world is at your fingertips, and every question dealing with renewable/sustainable/off grid has a multitude of answers – do your research and make your decision!

    • Thank you Alice H, Philip, & Robert, I’ll do more research on this. I’m glad I’m asking these questions early.

      • You are wise to ask questions. I live in the country (rural Kansas) and learned some counties have to follow the rules of another county or city. You’d think grey water would not be a problem as disposed of in campgrounds, but in other areas grey water is not allowed on the ground and must be hauled in special containers or disposed of through approved septic systems. Neighbors can get nosey and complaints occur without your knowledge. Good luck finding a workable solution.

  4. Bio degradable soaps and you send the grey water through a gravel bed and into your raised bed garden.
    Your water usage drops dramatically living in a tiny house and the garden accepts it year round.

    • have had gray water for years… at least for washer.. I use regular soap and my grass loves it.. sadly, not legal where I live, but too many other issues the town is looking at for revenue.. Thanks so much for all your insightful comments.

  5. I like the idea of the permit. If they make it renewable it would be a good plan. I wish they would do that here. When the economy soured, lots of my neighbors had relatives and friends living in RVs on their lots and my city’s rule is 48 hours max. I think there should be a provisional revokable and renewable permit for people to live in RVs on someone’s property. I know the city complains because they don’t want to increase density without proper planning but as most of the properties are all being rezoned for high density housing anyway, I don’t see the point. And I’d rather a neighbor have family living in an RV next to their house then everyone cramming in the house and fighting all the time.

  6. I haven’t personally had to deal with changing zoning laws, but it brings to mind the documentary ‘Garbage Warrior” which featured architect Michael Reynolds, who builds sustainable dwellings in (i think) New Mexico. The dwellings are solar and do not require plumbing. the local zoning commission had great difficulty with his dwellings as they didn’t have streets, water, sewer and electric. The documentary shows a bit of his struggle with them. The commissioners were very resistant to change, very unwilling to think outside their predesignated parameters. Very disappointing. But a fantastic documentary anyway!

  7. I have lived in a 1971 Park Model Camper on the same rented land in NW GA for almost 12 years with any hassles. I did talk the the county Commission years ago and he said if their are no complaints this they over look this way of living.
    My neighbors are OK with me. I am a 61 year-old bird watcher so….I am quiet. I also have a lovely garden for birds/wildlife and keep the place neat and clean. I believe this has helped since they were wary at first.
    People are always interested to see how I live in my small space and have gotten some great feedback. Some wish they could do it. Maybe someday they will because they have seen how it could be done with class.
    BTW…I adore your tiny house! I must look at your past posts for more pictures! I feel if there no complaints made against you…you could live there longer than a year…like me.

  8. Jean, you are exactly what I go on about with being a responsible neighbor and setting an example. Of course this comes with self respect and pride. You indeed have class and that is a beautiful setting you are in. I am a little wary of too much banter on the subject alarming people into saying, we will watch for this activity in our neighborhood and someone as responsible as you may not get the chance to prove what an asset you are to society.

    I flag this caution because when I was here for 7 month duration and no one really knew, they showed no interest therefore I had no problems. This time around, the entire town knows something is going on with my little building and if I intend, which I do, to live here I have some minor adjustments to make. I did know this from the onset so was prepared. As it is, I am over my welcome stay with my camper but have not had one complaint. I do move it for a couple of days and stay at a friend’s so every time I come back it is a new period of time. City hall is around the corner from me so they along with applied permits, know what is going on here. I am not going to rub their oversight with the camper in their faces, not directly down town. I am receiving great support from everyone.

    I wish you many more long years in your little paradise.

    • Ralph, I am feeling guilty that I have had a so call “free card” with my situation when others are facing zoning problems.
      Thanks for your well wishes and please accept mine in return.
      Peace.

    • As I was answering your comments on the subject of 5 reasons, my phone went ding. (I get notifications on it that a new comment has been registered) You know, like the little bell saying an angle just earned their wings. Now that’s rousing. (Kind of fun on this post with you and I being the only ones who know what we are talking about, LOL, ya, on the internet, am I gullible or what?)

      You should not under any circumstances feel guilty you got a free card; many people try to buck the system where they could have also received a “free card” if they didn’t try to mess things up by changing the lives of others, changing zoning is stepping on some toes and interfering with raising suspicion of what if, to those who are living a comfortable lifestyle they know how it is. You gratified the lives of others with your presence. I do and am vain enough to say it. When I put out garbage, I put out my neighbors. I own the land the girl next door parks on, with my blessings; it keeps her vehicle off the street. I patronize the overpriced store next door and let him know when I am travelling allowing him to use parking on my land. He has restricted parking and with their personal vehicles on my land it gives more of his to clients. It’s a win-win, you wash my back while I wash yours and we all feel the love, (poor metaphor?) I hope not, we all benefit and get along.

      Your style of writing shows consideration for others and grace. Thank you for your well wishes in return, I know things will work out here, they are not asking me for anything unreasonable, have somewhat shown responsibility for some of the condition my building is in (long story) but have indicated latitude so in the end, I will be a happy camper. God Bless.

      Just as I was signing off, a little critter of a mouse ran across the corner of the room and when I thought I had the rodent situation taken care of. I hate to poison or kill anything but can’t live with them. Back to the be-gone mouse store!

      • Ralph, I appreciate these reply-back and am pleasantly surprised. I as well have enjoyed our banter.:D)
        That said….yes we seem to understand what it takes to live this way without causing problems with “the powers-that-be”. Maybe these young ones will take note.
        I currently have Blue Mud Dabbers invading my camper. I don’t like using poisons either. I do keep Wasp Killer Spray on hand for protection from the 2 legged varmints. LOL!
        Hope you get rid of those mice.
        Peace…

        • I read somewhere on a post today that moth balls spread out, work to keep the mice out so will spread some out along the wall, hopefully that should keep them away I have a butterfly net and am out catching moths, I will probably need tweezers to pull them off the little suckers but if it works I’ll give it a try. I will probably need a lot of moths though. At least they should still live productive lives; it shouldn’t be unlike a vasectomy would it. (uh hum)

          I do not know much about the Blue Mud Dauber Wasp but do they not feed on the Black Widow Spiders? We had the Widows in Kelowna BC and it could be a case of the devil you know verses the devil you don’t. It might be a good idea to research the population of Widows, around if I am correct. At the risk of frightening you, you have 3 or more cement blocks under your door step and the Black Widows love being around them, you might want take a peek. I wouldn’t do the peeking; I would spray the good old Raid Spider Blaster and peek later. The Blue Mud Dauber also builds its hive in these blocks (which I guess makes sense as lunch is close but of course the old raid may ruffle their feathers if not kill them also) but they are really not aggressive, they don’t defend the hive and are pretty harmless unless really bothered, I would be more concerned about their lunch.

          Last summer in Youngstown Alberta we had a slew of Wasps and I used the Wasp traps, they work fantastic, I reused the tops on peanut containers and put a little beef in them, the wasps went wild for the beef, they also worked great on attracting flies to the trap and not the chicken on my plate. I was pleased with the way the traps work. Would you listening to me giving you, one who knows far more than I about these wee critters than I probably do but felt it worth sharing

          I understand your other spray, hope you never need it, a real eye opener… God Bless

          • Moth balls discourage mice in enclosed spaces like a small shed or storage box but you don’t really want moth balls just lying around your living space. For one thing it diminishes the effectiveness. Plus that stuff is quite toxic and just plain stinks. You have to block up all the holes mice use to get into your place and they can squirm through some pretty tiny spaces.

            A friend of mine suggested taking “samples” from her cat litter box and spreading them around outside the trailer and shack but I haven’t tried that yet. I did use a poison bait for a couple of months after the situation became really out of control and now they still stay out of the trailer and shed even though I haven’t used the stuff for two years. I stored some things in a tent for a couple of days this week and they chewed up a towel out there so I know they’re still around.

          • Thank you Alice, They are nasty little soles but you make good sense so the poison is the only answer at present, by the time I get all the points of entry for them sealed up the place will be pretty much rebuilt. I do not lack ventilation. I actually heard the cat thing before and one fellow said at his cabin near his trap line he sprays his own urine around the outer perimeter and has noticed a big change in wild life coming close to his living area. (More or less marking his own turf) Now with that said, I am inclined to give the benefit of doubt because I have heard different things over the years that are strange but work, it’s his story so he can tell it the way he wants but as the British say, and pardon the pun, “he may have also been putting the piss to me”. I don’t mind appearing or being gullible if it is at least a good story.

            I gave up on the traps, to many slammed on my finger trying to set them and contrary to what I have been told, obviously, they do not like peanut butter. A friend told me this morning to use just butter on them. I don’t like to use traps because although I am bit of a big fellow, and mistaken for the weenie I really am, I am a softy and don’t like to see what they go through in a trap. Just a little thing with me and critters of all kinds!

            I swear these tenacious little buggers stop mid travel and give me the finger. I had two black bears living in the back yard, believe it or not, millions of sq’ miles of wilderness and they chose my little back yard to live in. “I left them alone” a while ago the RCMP had to shoot one because he made this down town area his own. I found out they were living in my back yard because unknown to me, (up until now, I didn’t have much of an idea of what was growing out there) I have a pear, cherry and apple tree among the foliage here and the deadfall invited them. The trees are coming down this year. I feel bad with the thought I may have contributed to their demise and don’t really want more as immediate neighbors. Makes plugging in the RV from the rear at night an exciting and fast project, not to mention hair rising. My neighbor, a sweet little gal, told me “oh, they haven’t bothered anyone, well she was wrong, and knowing they were there sure bothered me.

            Thanks again, just think of the moths you spared. LOL

Leave a Reply

What is 7 + 2 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve this